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The Drivers of Change Individual Award: Professor Romeela Mohee

As Vice Chancellor of the University of Mauritius, Professor Mohee established the Chemical Engineering and Environmental Studies as well as Chemical and Sugar Engineering departments which have a 50% women enrolment. The judges found that she had dedicated herself to empower women in the knowledge of sciences and for improving the lives of rural women.

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Drivers of Change Individual Award: Dr. Vuyo Mahlati

President on the International Women’s Forum of South Africa and entrepreneur – typifies the idea of an African Renaissance woman. While working both practically and intellectually in the urban development, poverty reduction, gender equality and policy implementation spheres – she is still committed to the ethos of Ubuntu and care. “Her humility and keen grasp of economic and development issues at the micro and macro levels make her one of Africa’s most persuasive young leaders”, the judges said.

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Drivers of Change Individual Award: Angela Larkin

Angela Larkin was motivated to create a low-resource model that she believed could help orphans and vulnerable children affected by the HIV / Aids epidemic. But, when funding proved hard to secure she decided to start Thanda Afterschool herself. Five years later Thanda is still a successful initiative through Angela’s visionary, innovate and pioneering ideas. She has taken tremendous strides to decrease malnutrition and food insecurity amongst youth by initiating a Feeding Scheme that provides for over 350 children, agricultural programmes that encourage youth to start their own home gardens and community garden initiatives that help unemployed youth, adults and the elderly to earn an income. Thanda Afterschool also provides a safe, secure environment where kids can learn, take part in art and dance classes and receive counselling.

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Drivers of Change Individual Award: Advocate Thuli Madonsela

Advocate Thuli Madonsela forfeited a Harvard scholarship to focus on her role as one of the drafters of the post-apartheid constitution. 

She has been instrumental in human rights and civic activism since the early eighties and has contributed to the development of a host of laws enacted to transform South Africa’s legal system since 1994. 

In 2009 she was appointed by the President as South Africa’s third Public Protector, after being recommended by Parliament following a hundred percent vote in her favour by all parties represented in Parliament. Since her appointment, Advocate Madonsela has demonstrated leadership and carried out her mission without fear or prejudice – bringing a new prominence to the role of the public protector, the concept of “the public interest”, and the primacy of the public sphere. 

She has contributed significantly to strengthening constitutional democracy and has emerged as a major driver of change in South Africa, the judges said.

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Drivers of Change Individual Award: Jay Naidoo

Jay Naidoo, Jay Naidoo was the South African Minister responsible for the reconstruction and development programme in the first democratic government of South Africa. Whilst Minister of Telecommunications, he promoted the development of connectivity in remote rural areas designed to offer poor people opportunities for education, communication and work. From 2001, he has chaired the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), a premier development finance institution that drives social and economic infrastructure development in southern Africa. 

He is also chairperson of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a global organisation that is driving an improvement in nutrition for millions of people in 25 countries through innovative public-private partnerships to fortify staple food items like maize and salt, for example, so that they have better nutritional value for poor people. 

Jay is known for transforming the trade union movement through his leadership of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). The Judges applaud Jay Naidoo for making a significant impact towards overcoming poverty and stimulating

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Drivers of Change Individual Award: Dr José Negrão

The Drivers of Change award honours individuals, government, civil society and business organizations from southern Africa that go beyond the conventional in making a real impact, especially in developing effective public policies and strategies, to end poverty. It recognises innovative and inclusive strategies, practices, attitudes, approaches and processes that create the best conditions to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of people living in poverty.

The inaugural winner of this award was an individual who inspired the lives of many people in Mozambique and throughout southern Africa who work to end poverty. Dr José Negrão was a professor of Development Economics at the University of Eduardo Mondlane and was a founding member of Cruzeiro do Sul, a research institute addressing a wide range of issues including poverty and rural development.

An advocate of land rights and promoter of an evidence-based approach to development, Dr Negrão put the voices of the poor at the centre of his scholarly work and activism. His research informed a wide range of advocacy and campaigning initiatives to overcome poverty. And he became a distinguished leader in the development of land law for which he is renowned not only in Mozambique but in Africa as a whole.

He demonstrated firm commitment and exceptional ability in bringing together divergent views and interests to ensure that the poor have access to and possess land not only based on the issuance of a title but through acknowledgement of peoples’ historical rights to land as communities on the basis of occupation and oral testimony.

In national and regional dialogue about overcoming poverty, Dr Negrão played an instrumental role in introducing a process whereby the perceptions of people living in poverty were taken into account and used to enrich the understanding of poverty and the appropriate strategies to make a real impact on their lives.

Characteristic of great people of history, Dr Negrão was a man who wore many hats: he was an active member of the G20 in Mozambique, a group that represents the voice of civil society in the national Poverty Observatory, an innovative process that has developed a collective national vision for development in Mozambique; a member of the Mozambican Debt Group; served on the boards of directors of the Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA); and was an ardent participant in the Pan African Programme on Land and Resource Rights.

No stranger to awards, Dr Negrão received the Desmond Tutu Footprints of Legend Leadership Award in 2002 and was named personality of the year by the Mozambican weekly newspaper Savana.

A great communicator, selfless, an innovator, devoted to people-centred policies, and a pragmatist – all distinctive qualities that were seen by the Panel of Judges which unanimously awards, posthumously, Dr José Negrão the Driver of Change award for 2006.

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